Businesses: how to obtain European aid?

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In today's world, innovation and economic development are essential. The European Union has set up funding schemes to support these initiatives and help businesses prosper. This article guides you through the different forms of aid, subsidies and calls for projects available, their main objectives, how to benefit from them, and above all how they can boost your company's development.

Aids, subsidies, calls for projects: what are we talking about?

To begin with, you may have heard of Horizon Europe, the European Commission's main funding program. These programs offer financial resources to support R&D&I ecosystems and companies, particularly in certain priority sectors. They aim to respond to the major challenges and issues of our time, particularly those linked to the ecological and digital transition.

The European Commission is implementing Horizon Europe with European funds for the period 2021-2027.

Calls for projects are the incentive component of major European policies designed to steer research and innovation through financial incentives. They function as specifications, i.e. a set of conditions that project proposals must necessarily meet in order to qualify for part of the funding envelope, due to their generally competitive nature.

For winning projects, funding comes in the form of grants, loans and equity investments:

  • Grants include loans and repayable advances that must be repaid.
  • Grants do not require repayment
  • Equity represents a direct equity investment.

The aim of European funding

European Union funding is primarily aimed at stimulating economic development and innovation within the European Union. They are designed to support initiatives that contribute to the achievement of the EU's strategic priorities.

These priorities include :

  • Innovation and research: to make Europe smarter, the funds help Fund projects that promote technological innovation.
  • Supporting SMEs: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of the European economy. The funds support their growth and development.
  • Territorial cohesion: By reducing development disparities between territories and strengthening the cohesion of companies, laboratories and governments, the European Union aims to increase Europe's competitiveness.

Why benefit from this financing?

Funding is available whatever the technological maturity of the project you wish to Fund : from fundamental research with Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) to the market acceleration of disruptive innovations thanks to EICs; via industrial research and the experimental development of new technologies through the numerous calls for projects of the Horizon Europe program.

They offer many advantages that are essential for the development of your business:

  • First and foremost, this funding helps toreduce the cost of innovation and R&Dprojects.
  • But the financial aspect isn't the only benefit. By taking part in these programs, you become part of a network of European players, encouraging skills transfer and the establishment of strategic partnerships.
  • What's more, obtaining European funding can consolidate enhance your company's credibility with partners and investors, by attesting to the quality and ambition of your projects.

Who can benefit from this public aid?

SMEs, ETIs, major groups, laboratories, associations, universities... There' s something for everyone! More than national funding schemes, European funding covers a wide range of objectives and target groups. Thescope and maturity of your project, rather than the nature of your organization, will determine the type of funding you seek.

Who benefits most from these European Union subsidies?

In 2023, France will be the third largest recipient of European Union funding, behind Germany and the United Kingdom.

In terms of company typologies, SMEs remain the favorites, since they are at the heart of EU growth strategies and account for 85% of jobs in Europe, and large public research institutions, which are the scientific engine driving innovation based on scientific excellence.

How do you obtain this funding from the European Union?

To obtain this financing, you first need to find out which financing programs are available for your project. Then choose the one that best suits your needs.

It is also important not to neglect the formation of a consortium of key partners, an indispensable element in responding to a European call for projects. This phase is often underestimated by pilot entities wishing to submit a project proposal.

Next, you'll need to apply according to each program's specific procedure, which usually involves submitting a detailed application file and project plan. Eligibility criteria may vary according to the program, but may include the nature of your organization, the scope of your project and its conformity with EU strategic objectives.

To facilitate this process, the EU provides a number of support tools, such as information platforms and practical guides.

Finally, you can also call on specialist consultants to help you with this process.

What are the main sources of financing?

Funding is provided by various managing authorities, who select, finance and oversee the implementation of funded projects. The European Commission and its agencies (REA, CINEA, etc.), which manage the Horizon Europe program, are the European reference organization in this field. For example, regional councils manage ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) aid for territorial cohesion, and national agencies such as ANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) and BPI coordinate funding programs in partnership with the European Union.

The European Union's main funding programs, aimed at associations, research centers, universities and companies of all sizes, therefore include :

  • The Horizon Europe program, dedicated to research and innovation (eic pathfinder, eic accelerator, eic transition)
  • The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), managed by the regional councils, which promotes territorial cohesion.
  • Funding programs are coordinated by national agencies such asANR (Agence Nationale de la Recherche),ADEME (Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie) and BPI (Banque Publique d'Investissement), as well as by regional and local authorities.

There are also specific programs, such as :

  • Innovfin, for innovative companies.
  • COSME, for the competitiveness of businesses and SMEs.
  • Eurostars, for collaborative R&D projects between SMEs in different European countries.
  • The Employment and Social Innovation(EaSI) program, which provides microfinancial assistance.

How much funding is available from the European Union in France?

Again, this largely depends on the call for proposals and the status of your organization (laboratory, company or public institution). However, Horizon Europe's Pillar II calls for proposals typically offer funding ranging from 3 to 10 million euros per consortium, with an unbeatable funding rate of 70% to 100% depending on the type of company. Thanks to the EIC program (pillar III for SMEs and mid-caps), funding can even go up to 15 million euros via an investment by the EIB in the company's capital!

Dynergie, the firm that helps you obtain European subsidies

An expert at your side to facilitate exchanges with management and funding authorities: that's what consulting firms offer.

What makes Dynergie unique in this ecosystem when it comes to obtaining EU funding? Experts with a scientific background (engineers, PhDs, MSc), with economic skills (MBA, professional experience at BPI, in industry, in entrepreneurship...), a real concern for the subjects being dealt with, and therefore uncommon involvement.

If you'd like to find out more, take a look at our offer on the subject.

Maxime Dooms

Senior consultant in funding innovation - Public aids and subsidies, Europe, Environment, CleanTech - PhD Environmental chemistry - Lyon

Maxime has expertise in a wide range of funding mechanisms: Horizon Europe, ERC, EIC, Fonds Innovation, BPI (France 2030, iLab, iNov, iDemo, targeted calls: mobility, energy, nuclear, etc.). Our expert provides day-to-day support in setting up collaborative and individual projects, in Europe and France, with a global approach to funding innovation (synergies with the CIR, financing strategy, etc.). Finally, Maxime brings all his expertise, support and the application of the most relevant processes to our teams, empowering them in the implementation of projects towards excellence.

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